On Sunday, the 2-2-1 Cleveland Browns face the 3-2 Los Angeles Chargers. Coming into the season, much has been made about the Browns being 1-31 during Hue Jackson’s tenure over the last two years. That one win came during week 16 of the 2016 season, on Christmas Eve, in a home game against the Chargers.
The Chargers entered the game 5-9, just playing out the string, while the Browns came in 0-14, aspiring for that perfect season.
Robert Griffin III started for Cleveland and completed 17 of 25 passes. Isaiah Crowell ran for 54 yards and Gary Barnidge led all Browns receivers.
As mentioned, the Chargers were playing out the stretch and Mike McCoy was two weeks away from being fired. With RB Melvin Gordon out of the lineup, Philip Rivers slinged the ball all over the field, throwing 46 passes while Kenneth Farrow and Ronnie Hillman split carries in the backfield, each rushing 9 times (for virtually no yards). Antonio Gates, who was 2 years younger than he is today, making him roughly 50 years old at this point, caught 8 passes for 94 yards and a TD.
In 2017, these teams met again and the Chargers won 19-10. Chargers got big performances from Rivers, Gordon, and Keenan Allen, all of whom will be present this Sunday and likely play big roles for LA. For the Browns, Deshone Kizer was the QB and their leading rusher (46 yards). He completed less than 50% of his passes, never good. He also lost a fumble and threw an interception.
2018 will provide a fun game. Browns are rejuvenated, led by Baker Mayfield, a strong running game with Carlos Hyde and WR Jarvis Landry. The defense is also much improved compared to recent years. It will also feature the two best defensive backs from the 2018 NFL draft – CB Denzel Ward, who went 4th to the Browns and Safety Derwin James, who went 17th to the Chargers. Both men are likely to make a big impact on Sunday.